I Stopped Eating Meat for 30 Days And This Is What Happened
At the end of April 2017, I decided to go meatless for 30 days.
Why did I decide to do it?
I am not a health freak, but I do believe in 'listening' to your body. As I'm getting older (I'm in my early thirties now), I feel like my body has reached its optimum level. But sadly, what goes up must come down, right?
I've always felt that meat consumption was doing harmful things to my body and health.
Eating chicken for lunch, for instance, would cause my energy levels to crash just an hour later. I'd feel so tired and sleepy by 4pm. Late afternoon naps were a lot more common than I'd like and all this decreases my overall productivity for any given day. It was becoming such a problem.
At one point, I had had enough and I was convinced meats were the culprit. So I decided to make a change and began a no meat diet for 30 whole days.
Before beginning the challenge, I wanted to be sure I had clear objectives, goals and methods in place so I noted a few things down just so I don't get sidetracked.
My objective: I wanted to find out if meats were causing certain reactions to my body, namely the energy deficiency and sleepiness I experience in the afternoons. I also wanted to see if it produces any positive effects, be it weight loss, higher energy levels, or clearer skin.
The challenge: I was to stop consuming only white (chicken) and red (beef) meats for 30 days, with the exception of seafood, eggs and some dairy.
Challenge period: 1st May - 30th May 2017.
Begin the #nomeatchallenge.
Start Weight: 52 kilogrammes.
This has always been my average healthy weight based on my BMI. In my adult life, I have been as light as 47 and as heavy as 58. So while 52 kilos is a little heavier than what I personally would like, it is scientifically my most ideal weight so I'm not going to try hard to change that.
Went shopping for some pantry staples that will help sustain my new diet and stocked up on mostly potatoes, carrots, eggplant, onions and a few of my favourite fruits.
There has been almost an immediate (amazing) change to my body. My tummy was much less bloated and my arms and back (where I get most of my 'problem' fat) were significantly slimmer. I thought it was all in my head until David asked today, "Have you lost weight?"
I guess something's working its magic. Let's see if it sustains.
Challenge has been going so smoothly until tonight. I went out with a friend to a restaurant earlier in the day and ordered some scrambled eggs with a mocha. One of these (or both) caused my tummy to bloat really badly.
The good thing though? Because I'm off meat, I'm starting to notice other foods that could be causing me problems. I'm looking at you, dairy.
I'm already feeling a boost in overall energy and better digestion. I don't get tired after lunch anymore. Because my body isn't wasting energy on digesting hard-to-digest foods anymore, the energy gets spent on getting through the day's activities.
This is a little unexpected but last night I had the best sleep I've had in a long time. I didn't think to pay attention to my sleep patterns when I started the challenge but I'm beginning to notice better sleep patterns and I wake up more refreshed. It's a pleasant surprise.
Starting to notice that I haven't been getting hormonal acne as much. My period is here but there hasn't been any pre-menstrual acne. My face is clearer and it doesn't look like anything is forming underneath during that time of the month.
Mother's Day. I visited my mum and told her I turned vegetarian. She proceeded to tell me to go eat the flowers in her garden. Ha!
A little off-topic but funny observation: A flight attendant wrongly served me herb chicken on my flight and I got offended. (How dare she? Ha!) I hope I don't turn into one of those hardcore vegetarians.
Day 33 (Retrospect)
I actually surpassed the 30-day mark without even meaning to. In fact, I forgot I was on a food challenge and I managed to go a full 32 days without any meat in my diet. Yay, me!
On day 33, I had my first bite of meat again. I ordered a full stack of ribs at a restaurant and ravaged it. Strangely, nothing felt or tasted different. The meal was lovely and I didn't feel like I had gone a month without 'real' food or anything.
End Weight: 52 kilogrammes (no change!)
A Few (Surprising) Observations
It gets easier as the days go by. I've trained myself to make very conscious decisions about food - whether I'm at the grocery store or at a restaurant. I just kind of 'forgot' I can eat meat.
I did not lose any weight at all. I didn't expect to, so this result didn't surprise me at all. It goes to show that going meatless doesn't necessarily lead to weight loss.
I did not get any acne throughout the challenge. This was the biggest and most unexpected surprise to me. I noticed towards the end of the challenge that I had not broken out that month - not even during my period when I always get a zit or two. In fact, I got a zit almost immediately after I started eating meat again. Coincidence?
The constant bloating subsided. I'm prone to painful bloating after certain meals and I have never felt more comfortable running my daily routines than when I only ate vegetables. However, there is a downside - I tend to get hungrier faster too.
I stopped needing afternoon naps, which was great.
I slept better. This was another surprise. I noticed that I could fall asleep faster and I woke up more refreshed. However, this could have been caused by other factors, particularly all the travelling I had been doing all month.
It's important to note that most of these "effects" and observations happened on a small scale. Some could've been a direct effect of the food challenge but some could've been influenced by a number of other factors. I can't confidently say that any of these are absolute proof of the result of my new diet but it does raise an eyebrow.
The ultimate verdict: So did I decide to go full meatless after the challenge?
The short answer: YES, 12 days after I completed the challenge, I've finally decided to go meatless and become an ovo-pescatarian (please let me know the correct term if I got it wrong here), which allows for eggs and fish on top of vegetables and fruits. And while I'm at it, I'll work on weaning myself off dairy as well.
I'm committing now because the journey has been easy and I believe it will continue to be. I wholeheartedly believe now that having a more plant-based diet is less harmful to my body. To me, it is no longer just a lifestyle choice, it is exercising my right to be healthy by making better food choices.
I hope this has been helpful to someone out there who's considering taking the #nomeatchallenge. If you want some tips or advice on going meatless, comment below and I'd be happy to share some thoughts!
Are you inspired to go on your own #nomeatchallenge? Let me know in the comments!